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In what I believe is a secret plot to kill me, the flies are now emerging from their pupae in record numbers. (Well, "record" for the history of my keeping stocks, which is about two months now.) I think I'm going to have to reduce the number of stocks I currently have. Right now, I'm collecting about 300 virgins a day, when I only need about 240 more for my experiment with this population, maybe 480 if I try that idea C had about the white-out and it works. I don't have the time or the inclination to use this many at once!
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 So I have started up an RSS feed in a vain attempt to get a handle on keeping up with the blogs I follow. Yes, I am desperately uncool and behind the times. As usual, I have been trying and failing to avoid change. Go me. 

There was recently a new asexuality paper posted on mandrewliter's site. I have to say, it did not impress me. There were some serious methodological problems with their categorization, including the fact that a study ostensibly specifically designed to collect data on asexual people chose to employ measures of asexuality which completely failed to provide actual asexual options. For example, when collecting data on a "desire-based" scale of identifying asexual people, the authors chose to use a national survey which did not provide an option for asexual people (that is, there was no "I do not experience attraction to men or women" option) they used people who chose "not sure" and put them in the asexual category.

In fact, all of their measures of asexuality on this survey were overinclusive with respect to asexuality, which raises serious problems with their data. I understand that pre-existing national surveys are cheaper and easier to access for data on huge numbers of people, but when the questions on this survey give no meaningful measurement of the number of asexual people (which is not the same as the number of people who fall off the hetero/homo/bi spectrum), you need to work with a smaller sample and create your own survey which actually asks people relevant questions to determining sexuality. I'm not even going to go into discussing how asexuals with mismatched affectional orientations will often answer according to their affectional orientations on these things, because when there's no answer to fit you and you know exactly why, picking the closest answer is a bit better than "not sure." I'd argue that "Equally attracted to the same and opposite sex" is absolutely as "asexual" an answer as "not sure" is, and I've answered that way myself on similar surveys--I know very well what my attractional patterns, so saying that I am equally attracted to both makes a lot more sense to me than saying "not sure," especially when it's absolutely correct. I am equally sexually attracted to both sexes: not at all! 

When you don't offer answers that are correct on a survey to people, they will try to pick the closest possible thing. You cannot assume in this situation that "not sure" means anything even remotely close to "asexual." This is the big downside of mailed-in surveys with fixed answers: if you haven't asked the right questions, you're not going to get anything close to accurate data. And this entire paper is suffering from a great big case of wrong, wrong questions. 

Also not that impressed by "behavioral asexuality," which is functionally indistinguishable from celibacy and doesn't actually get at asexuality in any meaningful way (especially when you conflate, for example, asexual celibate people with involuntarily celibate people). There's too much crossover between sexually active asexual people and nonasexual celibate people for celibacy to be a useful measure of asexuality, IMO. Or sexual orientation in general. 

My own work is going okay, except that yesterday I managed an amazingly klutzy trip and flung my established crosses across the incubation room. Luckily it's a wee little room and only two of my six existing crosses broke, but I may just throw the remaining four out of my sample and focus on the crosses I will be setting up on Monday. Sigh. I really want the stocks for my other two populations so I can set them up and make them happy this coming week. 

Also, my boss just reminded me I could totally do Rally Obedience with Oliver. This might just be the thing to stave off my puppy cravings...
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 So apparently fruit flies, given a few days to their own devices, will rub metallic Sharpie off their legs and eat it. I could see the colors in their little bellies. Sigh. Now I understand much more fully why all experiments include a trial phase to iron out little problems like that...

In other words, I want brownies and yet I am too lazy to haul myself down to Goodwill and pick through their pans for a cheap Pyrex pan to make them in. Perhaps I can make brownies in the cake pan...
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 I have finally got to the surgery part of my experiment! Which means I spent about half an hour covering fruit fly eyes with metallic Sharpie this afternoon. It has gotten mostly easier than it was earlier, but not too much. I envy my friends working with plants and bacteria for not needing to learn microdissection. It's a giant pain, especially when your fine-motor control isn't great to begin with. 

On Tuesday I finally get to set up my crosses, at least for this first population. I'm still fretting about eventually  getting my stocks set up for my next two populations--I've got 360 crosses for this population alone to set up, I don't need the other ones any time soon, but it would be nice to get them going so I don't have to wait on them later--but aside from that things are progressing quite nicely. 

Also, I just discovered that with my thesis pending I don't have to do the extra three-hour lab for my Genetics degree. Which just made my senior year schedule a LOT less of a pain to set up, and incidentally means I can take a whole six hours less of class. (I haven't made up my mind whether I want to take Animal Behavior and possibly its lab just for funsies or not.) Which itself means I can treat myself nicely for once in the upcoming semesters and not engage in acts of self-sabotage like the one I'm doing now. If I can make it through seventeen hours of course credit again without collapsing in an anxiety-ridden overstressed depressed heap, I will damn well deserve a year of thirteen-hour course loads. 
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I finally achieved emerged flies this afternoon! After two weeks of waiting, it feels awesome to sort of have something to do at work other than obsessively check my stocks to see whether they need mushrooms or water. On Thursday, I operate! (My work makes for the best elevator conversations. I managed to distill the summer's project into one sentence, guaranteed to freak out irritatingly inquisitive people: "Oh, well, I watch flies having sex!" Right now, it's closer to "I operate on flies to see what effect that has on their ability to have sex!" and that's not quite as sharp. I think I still beat my friend's analysis of the effect of the end of the Confederate War on Southern conceptions of masculinity, but it's a narrow thing.)

The dog continues to be constantly itchy and secreting nasty gunk from his eyes. I think he's finally developed an allergy to duck. Next time I go out and buy food, I'm getting him a new protein. 
I have been feeling off, lately. I hope it's not connected to my gnawing worries that seventeen hours for a semester including research is unsustainable for me. At least this fall, I haven't a roommate to lose. (That would be the other consideration; I may simply just not be getting enough social contact. Pity they don't sell vitamins for that.) Well, I only need to survive this one, and then I can take thirteen and twelve-hour semesters for all the rest of college, and have a proper class-less summer besides. Treat myself kindly and all that. 
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 Wow, it's been a long time since I've remembered I meant to post in here. A lot of that is that I simply didn't have the energy to do it until recently; class and work and then a move and then a graduate school visit and then another move and then class and work again will do that to you. (I'm taking 17 hours again, which hopefully will not kill me in the same way that it did last year. Hopefully I'm not being enormously stupid again.) One of those is Human Sexuality, which I anticipate being either enormously interesting or horrifyingly exhausting or possibly both, particularly since an acquaintance I am not yet out to is taking it with me. And I have the dog with me, who is a Very Good Boy, but I don't have the Bestest Roommate In The World, so it gets a bit lonely in my apartment.

Ahahahaha. So much work. 
I think the main issue with this year is going to be avoiding biting off more than I can chew, since I just don't have the spoons to deal with all of it. Work is eating me up, and so is worrying about Oliver and my roommate situation, especially since I'm having to run about and put up flyers since my last roommate will be stuck paying rent until she finds the complex a new person to swallow up, and she's several states away at present. That and managing my blood sugar levels is pretty important. I can already feel myself beginning to forget to eat several times, especially since the way my schedule on campus is set up makes it fairly difficult for me to find a good time to eat lunch and usually by the time I'm heading home my blood sugar is way down. 

I did decide not to Honors-Option Human Sexuality on the theory that writing a paper about HSDD which was not an analysis of the issues inherent in HSDD but rather an uncritical analysis of the topic was going to trigger me into oblivion. (I still might write that former paper. It would make a good submission to the next Asexual Feminism zine, if I can find the time to get it done.) I'm seriously considering simply skipping HSDD day when it comes up for reasons of mental health at this point, and speaking with my professor about why it upsets me so much. For that to happen, though, I will need to be able to calmly discuss HSDD without shaking with a mixture of rage and anxiety. 
At least I'm doing some pretty cool work with the flies, even if all the sensory work I'm doing kind of makes me feel like Dr. Frankenstein. 
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Oh my god, I feel like I got punched in the uterus. Ow. Ow ow ow.

In other news, today's winner for Insanely Persistent Fly goes to Male Fly Number Eight, who attempted copulation 44 times before finally succeeding. This was essentially all of his mating strategy. For thirty-six minutes.

Also, I get to plantsit for Dr. D in exchange for money! HOORAY. And there was poetry written today instead of focusing in Philosophy. DOUBLE YAY. I'm so used to having a permanent block that getting something creative that I actually like written makes me very, very happy. 

In other news, I'm going home this weekend. If I don't chicken out, I'll finally have a chance to talk with my mother about the horrible panic attack I had in Italy and how her response was full of fail, and also the asexuality thing. I love her, but... I'm so tired of her saying insanely hurtful things without thinking every time I become halfway vulnerable. And dammit, this wasn't the first panic attack/overstimulation issue I've had in public and it probably won't be the last, especially if I cave to my mom's occasional guilt-tripping on behalf of my dad and go to a football game. I may as well be brave now and have the uncomfortable conversations, because if I don't I think I will probably start trying to avoid my parents and never be able to tell them why. And I miss them. 
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I keep meaning to write more often, about all the things which circulate in my head and occasionally poke me and ask to get out. I like writing, and in my classes I don't get to do it so much (damn you, science major), so I miss it. Also, I have things to say, except when I forget. And I have the attention span of a rather confused gnat at the moment. (Gotta do this gotta do that gotta sign that form do that homework get those groceries drop off that form--so much!)

Unfortunately I've also been working (best job ever, incidentally) and taking classes and haven't had so much free time, so... yeah. I got my own project at work, though. Now I have to google Drosophila courtship and watch the results. I've been too scared to do that yet. It seems like the kind of Google that could result in Bad Things.

It's kind of weird to be asexual and to spend an hour watching three pairs of flies attempting to mate. Next week, when we really start and I don't have to collect virgin flies anymore, is going to be interesting.


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